Automotive consumers are often drawn to cars and trucks sporting the latest and greatest technology. This fact, combined with record high gas prices, has helped Toyota
DaimlerChrysler's timing in introducing diesels in the U.S. may be dead-on. Gas prices remain stubbornly high, and the Jeep Liberty's diesel boasts 27% better fuel economy than comparable gasoline engines. Furthermore, changes in the energy market eventually could make diesel engines much more attractive. Energy companies such as ChevronTexaco
While hybrid technology continues to excite consumers, changes are afoot that could rapidly increase the importance of diesel engines. Right now, DaimlerChrysler is charging $8,000 for the diesel option, even though the fuel cost savings is only about $250 per year assuming 15,000 miles of driving. But if the company can sell to 35% of those 60,000 customers inquiring, that could mean $168 million in incremental sales. So, DaimlerChrysler's small steps to convert American consumers to diesel could generate huge payoffs in the years to come.
Fool contributor Brian Gorman is a freelance writer in Chicago. He does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.